The best diners in New Jersey according to this couple trying them all


Karri and Jon have been married for 39 years and continue to keep the spark alive by venturing to new diners as part of their mission to hit them all. Doug Hood / USA TODAY NETWORK

From the New York Post: With its endless turnpike exits and influx of Greek immigrants during the last century, New Jersey is said to have more diners than any other state in the nation.

And one Garden State couple is on a mission to try them all.

So far, Hillside husband and wife Jon and Karri Ricklin have devoured their way through 199 greasy spoons — one burger deluxe, short stack, souvlaki or scramble at a time.

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The Golden Era of Sign Design: The Rediscovered Sketches of Chicago’s Beverly Sign Co.


From Kickstarter: What is The Golden Era of Sign Design?The Golden Era of Sign Design, The Rediscovered Sketches of Beverly Sign Co. is a hardbound art book providing an extensive look at the incredible sketches of Chicago’s preeminent outdoor sign company, Beverly Sign Co. Displaying over 100 hand drawn sketches from the 60s – 80s used onsite by sign painters in the Chicago area. It is rare to have this large of a collection of sign sketches from that time period and this grouping of sketches showcases some of the best sign designers of the time who were known to have developed the “Chicago Look”. There is no other compilation of it’s kind and is now presented in hardback book format for everyone to enjoy.

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Historic White Castle Façade Coming to IRM


From the Illinois Railway Museum: UNION, IL — When you think of White Castle, “historic artifact” may not be the first phrase that comes to mind, but it was for volunteers at the Illinois Railway Museum (IRM) in McHenry County, northwest of Chicago. When they saw that the oldest active White Castle restaurant in the Chicago area, located in Whiting, Indiana, was closing to be replaced by a new building on the same property, they sprang into action to ensure this piece of Americana wouldn’t vanish.

White Castle was the first national fast-food chain. Founded in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas, by Billy Ingram, the chain was quickly spreading across the Midwest by the early 1930s. Its business model included standardized restaurant designs, consistent branding, an emphasis on cleanliness, and of course low cost.

In 1935, the chain opened Whiting No. 1, the city’s first White Castle restaurant, on Indianapolis Boulevard at 119th Street. The building featured the typical castellated styling and newly developed prefabricated porcelain panels on the exterior. For its first five years, streetcars ran right past the door on their way between South Chicago and downtown East Chicago. The castle was remodeled in 1956, but it retains its porcelain-clad exterior. It is closing at the end of March but will be replaced by a newly built structure on the same property.

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What currently brings me joy: Roadside Americana


‘It’s often playful or nostalgic. Or even problematic. You know it when you see it.’ Illustration: Carmen Casado/The Guardian

From the Guardian: When I was a child, my parents attended an annual oyster roast whose centerpiece was a woman known as the Uniroyal Gal, a 17ft tall fiberglass woman in a low-slung blue bikini, modeled after Jacqueline Kennedy. Road trips took us through the land of Vollis Simpson’s Whirligig Park, Muffler Men, Marvin Johnson’s Gourd Collection and signs for General Stonewall Jackson’s left arm, buried separately from his body after an amputation in rural Virginia.

I wrongly assumed that Roadside Americana was only a fixture of southern roadsides. Now, I take joy in noticing it on my weekly commute north on Route 7 in Vermont.

I often hit the road at 7am on my teaching days in order to reach Middlebury College by 9 for office hours and class. Much of Route 7 is blessedly tree-lined, and Vermont’s weather is frequently unforgiving, so the levity of Roadside Americana breaks up the monotony of my drive.

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Historic upstate theaters seek dedicated funding from New York State lawmakers


State Theatre The 1,600-seat State Theatre in Ithaca is one of the 13 theaters in Upstate New York seeking annual dedicated funding from the New York Legislature. Photo courtesy of State Theatre

From The Buffalo News: Historic theaters in Upstate New York add cultural vitality to downtowns and boost local businesses, but because they are large and around a century old, they’re costly to maintain.

A state budget request would reduce the theaters’ economic burden and help ensure their viability through annual, dedicated funding.

The state does that for aquariums, zoos and botanical gardens, and a coalition of 13 upstate theaters from Jamestown to Poughkeepsie – including Shea’s Buffalo Theatre – hopes to join them.

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All Neon Like: The Glowing, Glorious History Of Neon Coffee Art


1933 Group

From Sprudge: Neon and coffee go hand in hand, bathing your favorite cup in a soft glow. Today it’s part of a wider interior design milieu: the living plant wall, a sun-lit corner with dramatic shadows, and a cheeky phrase lit up, curving in an exaggerated script font. But long, long ago—before Instagram, before the permanent daylight of the Las Vegas Strip, and before enormous digital screens took up residence in Times Square—there were illuminated tubes and coffee mugs to light the way.

Neon signs’ peak in the 1950s went hand-in-hand with the promotion of automobile usage and a need to grab people’s attention faster. It was often paired with roadside architecture structures like giant coffee pots and other similarly eye-catching buildings. The previous iteration of lit signs—words made up of single bulbs dotted to form letters—took the brain a moment to process. But continuously lit tubes? The lines made it easier and faster for people to read; every second counted regarding business signage on the highways.

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